Call for Submissions: Building Bridges

Send us your leads and pitches by July 30.

The United States has never truly lived up to its name. We are, and have always been, a nation of divided people—racially, economically, sexually, politically, generationally, geographically. Perhaps no other time in our recent history than now has it been more evident and undeniable that our society has yawning chasms. Opposing sides of many issues have retrenched into polarized silos — brooking no compromise or effective/constructive communication with the other.

Can we change this?

We’ve become conditioned to see those who are different from us as “other,” unreachable at best, and at worst, irredeemable or enemies. And yet, some of our differences may be bridgeable. But how? And when? Modern America is a pluralistic society, and its survival depends on finding ways to live alongside each another even if we disagree on some, or many, issues.

Do you have stories about solutions, community initiatives, or groups that are tackling these schisms and their root causes? In our winter issue, we will explore the idea of “building bridges.” The concept sounds nice, but what does it look like? Where are the gaps? How did those gaps form and what are their implications? Who’s trying to bridge them, how are they doing it, and why are they doing it? And where does this metaphor come up short?

Not all gaps can be closed. No one would reasonably suggest “meeting in the middle” when one side is rooted in White supremacy, for example. But there may be effective ways that disagreements can be approached.

Consider the illusion of apurple America”: Surprisingly, it’s not a mystical state of “centrism,” but a symbol for people whose political behavior tends to follow specific policy preferences rather than a partisan identity. Can movements be built around justice, compassion, and a better future, while avoiding the partisan bent that often can halt progress?

Are we arguing about the same things? While climate change is a scientifically documented phenomenon, “climate change” as a political label splits us. Nevertheless, cities and communities on both sides of the partisan divide experience its effects, from flooding to ever-more violent storms to disrupted seasons. How can “both sides” come to see adaptation to a changing environment as key to our survival?

Where does privilege enter—and exit—the equation? It’s usually people in power who ask, “why can’t we all get along?” But part of healing begins with listening to and acknowledging the stories of those without power. Can we learn from the diverse array of communities across America—and around the world—to truly co-exist? How does privilege influence the process of bridging gaps? And for those without power striving for justice, how can they broaden the appeal of their movements to reach those who might be considered unlikely allies?

What myths can be busted? Like the artificial “purple” label, bridges serve as metaphors for something else, and sometimes the goal isn’t clear: Are we constructing a new bridge from the foundation or are we completing an older one? Are we breaking or burning down a bridge? Who’s responsible for the work involved? Are some bridges half-built, with one side waiting for the other to join them? Are bridges being built to nowhere, when talk is only for the sake of talk? Are some bridges too far, where the other side cannot be compromised with without sacrificing core principles? And are there times to walk away, say “no,” and burn the bridge behind you?

YES! Magazine wants to know how individuals and communities are building bridges to solve the most complicated issues of our time.

Send us your story ideas! We’re looking for excellent solutions-based journalism: character-driven and place-based storytelling. Stories will be well-researched and demonstrate conflict and resolution in the form of a reported feature or exploratory analysis. Send pitches to [email protected] by July 30.

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